Friday, June 16, 2017

AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED BY KHALED HOSSEINI - BOOK REVIEW

To complete my Hosseini mini-marathon, I picked up his latest novel. While The Kite Runner will always hold a special place in my heart, I think ATME might be a close second.


Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.


I'm not sure I can come up with a decent synopsis or summary of this book. It is nothing like the unilateral story of TKR and it jumps around even more than A Thousand Splendid Suns. The book is essential a collection of tales about different people and how they are all connected. I remember a quote from TKR where Amir remembers his father saying something along the lines of "Put two Afghan men in a room together and within ten minutes they will tell you how they are related." That notion struck quite true in this story. Through multiple timelines and perspectives, the story goes from the 1940s to 2010 and back again. Each character is a small piece of the larger puzzle of Abdullah and his sister Pari. Through grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. the story unfolds and the siblings make their way back to each other.

When I first started the book, I was thrown off. I was used to the time jumps from Hosseini's other work but I was turned off by the chapters long enough they should have been called parts and the new narrator that came with each. Eventually, I was able to get a grasp on the style of the story and began to enjoy it more.

Like Hosseini's other books, this one deals with family, loss and the culture and struggles in Afghanistan. I enjoyed his mini history lessons, but I didn't find the information too overbearing. I think Hosseini realizes now that readers have either already read TKR and have some background knowledge on Afghanistan from it or are well-enough versed from the news and media. I appreciated that he didn't go over every detail painstakingly, rather choosing general statements like "You know how things have been," etc.

I feel like with each book Hosseini writes, I am able to see his progression as a writer and as a storyteller. With this third book, Hosseini moves the setting to include Afghanistan, Paris, San Fransisco, and Greece. If you are familiar with his previous novels, you know Hosseini is not afraid to move the story to a new location. I enjoyed that element in this book, the new locations weren't so much for cultural education purposes as they were for a change of pace for both new characters and the reader. I also loved the idea that this family, once split apart can now connect, no matter the distance.

I don't know if I would say this story is as moving or emotional as TKR or ATSS, at least in terms of the turmoil of Afghanistan. This book has its sad moments, but they are nothing compared to the other books.

I think this book is hard to love, especially if you loved his other books because it is so different from those ones. This book deals with the characters on a much larger scale than Amir's regrets of the past and the women of ATSS horrors. I think Hosseini's writing has changed to shape the world and the readership of this novel, for better or for worse.

This book is a story set in Afghanistan, not a story about Afghanistan.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the more I am stewing, the more I appreciate Hosseini's ability to weave this story.